What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be said to be both the set of skills we develop through learning to meditate and the benefit we gain from meditating regularly.
We mostly go through life on automatic pilot, unaware of what is going on around us. Mindfulness helps us to see more clearly and honestly what is going on in our lives. Most importantly mindfulness helps us to learn how to respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves in a calm and creative manner. We can step away from our habitual responses, which are so often unhelpful, and find new ways of responding to the inevitable ups and downs of life.
Mindfulness is characterised by awareness of our experience, and by kindness. By paying a particular kind of attention to ourselves, in the present moment, we develop the ability to be fully present to our experience and to our lives, and to be more aware of ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. It allows us to develop our inner resources, to adapt more easily to life’s ups and downs and to develop a more positive approach to ourselves and to life in general.
Over the last 20 years, Mindfulness has been employed as a health care intervention for a wide range of conditions, from stress to depression to chronic pain.
How do participants learn Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned and practised. On a Mindfulness course or workshop, participants learn meditation practices that cultivate awareness of the body, the mind and the emotions. Presentations provide valuable approaches for dealing with life’s difficulties and group discussions provide the opportunity to explore the experience of Mindfulness.
In order to get the most from courses, participants are asked to commit to a regular Mindfulness practice at least for the duration of the course. This deeper engagement allows participants to benefit more fully from the course.
Living Well Through Mindfulness
Mindfulness offers participants techniques that allow them to develop and nurture positive states of mind, such as calmness, clarity, emotional positivity and a deeper seeing of the true nature of things.
The main benefit gained from the practice of mindfulness and meditation is the ability to see and experience that we do have a choice about how we think and feel. Even though much of what we experience in life is most often outside of our direct control, we can learn how to take responsibility for our own states of mind and how to choose to change them for the better. The mindfulness that we develop and maintain through meditation empowers us to make this choice.
Mindfulness for Pain and Illness
Living with chronic pain or a long-term illness can give rise to stress and tension, and a host of other secondary symptoms, such as exhaustion, irritation, insomnia and depression. Mindfulness provides a tool kit of resources to apply to these secondary symptoms, thus lessening the overall experience of suffering.
Paradoxically, by learning how to Live Well with pain or illness, participants can greatly expand their perspective and experience a richer and fuller life.
Some of the benefits experienced from a Living Well with Pain and Illness course are:
- an increased ability to relax and experience calm
- greater confidence in ability to undertake activities
- increased ability to cope effectively with flare-ups or set-backs
- an increased ability to cope more effectively with short and long-term stress
- a decreased tendency to catastrophise
Living Well with Stress
Most of us experience stress at various times in our lives, but sometimes it can feel as though we are stuck in ‘stress mode’ all or most of the time. With Mindfulness, we can learn how to manage stress and anxiety, how to develop the ability to be still and how to regain an appreciation of our lives and ourselves.
The Mindful Workplace
Enhancing the lives of professionals and clients through delivering self-care training for Living Well.
A growing body of international research, including clinical trials, has established the effectiveness of Mindfulness Interventions in enhancing the lives of people who practice them.
Benefits of Workplace Based Courses
At the beginning of 2013 an innovative wellbeing pilot programme for staff of the Department of Health was run in the UK.
Statistically significant changes for the group as a whole included:
- Reduced perceived stress
- Improvement in satisfaction with life
- Improved well-being
- Reduced sense of isolation
- Less likely to be overwhelmed by painful thoughts and feelings